Caring for Auto and Bike upholstery

Here are articles to help you care for your auto and bike upholstery.

Auto Interior Care Tip from the Road. PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 05 November 2009 10:56

         I was out on the road yesterday and saw this interior configuration in a car at one of my dealerships.  It is a vinyl seat with an ultra-suede inset. Listen to the audio file below.  I'll explain why I think it's a good one.  Not that you need to go out and buy that car but hopefully the concept will help you care for your automotive interior.  No matter whether you have an easy or a hard one to maintain. Here is the picture of the 06 Charger vinyl/ultra-suede interior:

  • Newer vinyls and ultra-suede are very easy to clean and maintain.
  • They will not fade in the sun.
  • The vinyl only will benefit from a vinyl conditioner being applied 1-2 times a year
  • Certain other fabrics need a stainguard protection applied or they will easily stain
  • Certain light colors of leather interiors need very consistent cleaning and conditioning or they will quickly look dirty.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2009 12:49
Restoring your auto interior to sell it quicker and for a better price. PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Friday, 30 October 2009 11:02


Over the years, I have gotten many calls from car owner who are interested in fixing up their car's interior so they can sell it.  While they may have to put some time and money into the work, I think it is well worth it.  For instance, I do about 60% of my work for used car dealerships.  The managers, who don't like to spend $ they don't need to spend, believe that it is worth paying me to fix up scuffs, burns, scratches, tears and stains.  They know doing so will help a car to present much better to a potential customer.  So here are a few of the things you should do or pay a pro to do to sell your car quicker and for a better price.

  • Cigarette burns and smell- Most people interested in buying your car will not want it if it lCooks and smells like an ashtray.  Cigarette burns can be fixed and smoke smell can be aired out. 
  • Clean up your leather- Dirty, worn or torn leather also turns off a buyer.  It can be cleaned and repaired.  Conditioning it can return some of the leather smell to the car.  Surprisingly smells really matter when your trying to sell your car.
  • Clean up the heavy, noticeable stains- Koolaid, Tar and coffee stains all can turn of a choosy buyer.  Try to scrub them out or a pro can dye over the stains if they won't clean.
  • Remove surface scratches from the doors and dash- Many cars get scratched up on the doors and dash.  These scratches are easy to remove (See the article on plastic scratch removal) and give the car a nice clean look.

If you need auto interior repair help in Baltimore/ Washington or the surrounding areas feel free to contact me.  Just click here.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 07:21
Cleaning your car Interior: A simple tool that will make cleaning easier. PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Friday, 30 October 2009 10:47

Often a simple tool will make cleaning the interior of your car much easier.

Here are a few pix from a job I did yesterday on a Volvo S40 to illustrate:


Here is a problem all of you with a light leather and vinyl car interior will face sooner or later.  The armrest looks dirty but it's not sitting up on the surface of the material, the dirt has settled down into the grain.  


First, I'll try to clean the area with a mild cleaner like sprayed onto a soft lint-free rag.  Even though vinyl can withstand stronger cleaners, I always like to use the mildest cleaner I can to do the job.  Rubbing over the area with the saturated soft cloth does not take off the dirt. You can see the product I used, SG-5, by clicking here.


Now I use the same mild cleaner but switch to using an ultra-fine Scotch-brite scour pad.  You can buy these at most any hardware store but be sure to only use ultra-fine on your upholstery.  As I rub the cleaner over the armrest this time the dirt is lifted from down in the grain.  Then I simply wipe back over it with the soft cloth and the dirt is moved to the cloth.

Clean.  Changing only to a more effective tool has made the cleaning of this armrest turn out well.  Give it a try.  It will help you better clean your car interior


Materials update from Chris:  I buy these pads in bulk from an auto supply store but I saw something similar at Home Depot recently for about $3. It was pink in color, had a sponge in the back and the scour pad on top.   Be careful to only use a ultra-fine or no-scratch pad especially on leather.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 20:28
Protect your auto leather from auto leather enemy #1; The Sun. PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Chris Repp   
Thursday, 29 October 2009 17:18


Nothing wears down your beautiful, supple leather car seats than the heat and uv rays of the summer sun.  The hotter the area you live, the more real a problem this can be for your leather.  The sunlight fades the color of your leather.  The sunlight and dry heat in your car dries out the fibers of your leather.  The sunlight just makes your upholstery, especially if it's black, hot and sticky.  So here's a few tips for limiting the damaging effects of the sun on your leather car seats.

  • Use a sunshade in your windshield.  This is a great way to cut down the heat and direct uv damage of the sun.
  • Tint your windows.  Only to the legal limit of course.
  • Keep the car in the shade in the middle of the day or on especially hot days.  Having a car that's been "garage kept" doesn't just apply to the exterior but allows the upolstery to hold up as well.
  • Use leather conditioner more frequently during the hot summer months. Be sure it's a good one or it will just add to the sticky or slippery feel of the leather.  Click here to see the products we use and recommend, SG-25 and SG-50.  SG-50 is a bit pricey but worth it if you have leather that is starting to stiffen.
  • If your leather is starting to feel stiff treat it with weekly intensive applications of a good conditioner.  This stiffness will lead to cracks, tears and the death of your leather upholstery.
  • If you drive a convertible, put the top up when you park in direct sunlight.  The direct rays of the sun on leather is really damaging over time.

So keep showing off that awesome leather in your car.  Just protect it from the sun so it stays that way.


P.S. A lot of this info applies to your leather jacket or bag too.


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 February 2010 14:46
Is my auto upholstery leather or vinyl? PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 29 October 2009 16:56


Many of my customers use the words leather and vinyl interchangeably when talking about the upholstery in their car, truck or van.  That's fine i'm not trying to be annoying about the details.  Except that it helps you when you need to know how to care for the upholstery or to ask a pro about repair of a particular damage.  In those cases it's good to know if its a leather or vinyl area you have. Here are a few tips to help you know if you have leather or vinyl and why it matters.

  • Most cars with leather seats are actually a mix of leather and vinyl.   The parts of the seat you touch when you sit in the seat is leather while the sides and back of the seats are often vinyl.  This matters cause a leather conditioner will not help the vinyl sides.  The sides are the most common area to crack and to prevent these cracks you need a vinyl dressing not a leather one.
  • Most steering wheels that are molded are plastic/vinyl material, while many wrapped steering wheels are leather.  I think that the vinyl/plastic ones get chewed up more easily and the leather ones wear but are easier to fix.
  • Mercedes for sure and Range Rover, i think, have moved away from leather to vinyl seats.  A good leather seat will last if people take care of them but many weren't and the leather wasn't outlasting the cars.  So Mercedes made the switch.  Again, it matters for repair but most good leather pros will know vinyl if you say late model Mercedes.
  • Dashboards, door panels and consoles are most always vinyl not leather.  So use a vinyl dressing not a leather one.  Also vinyl can be cleaned with stronger cleaners if it gets dirty or grimy so it's good to know these parts are vinyl not leather.  Also door panels and console vinyl tends to split as the vinyl looses its plasticity.  Like here:


  • Can't you just tell leather from vinyl by looking at them, touching or smelling them.  Not always.  Lots of vinyl is made very well and I even have a tough time telling the difference.  One rule if you already have a damage is that leather may scratch or scuff or fray but vinyl will usually just tear.  Also if you can get underneath the surface leather will look like suede and vinyl will just have a cloth mesh pattern.

Hope these insights help you to distiguish between leather and vinyl in your auto or bike upholstery. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 November 2009 12:50
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